21st Century Fox’s proposed takeover of broadcasting giant Sky appeared to be in the balance today, after the UK’s culture secretary admitted concerns over the £11.7 billion deal.
Karen Bradley, said the possibility for the Murdoch family to hold “increased influence over the UK news agenda and the political process” meant the deal required further scrutiny.
As a result, Bradley says she has accepted a recommendation from UK communications regulator Ofcom, to send the proposal to the Competition and Markets Authority, where it’ll be examined over a six-month period.
Related: Sky Q review
In comments to the House of Commons, the culture secretary added (via Guardian): “The proposed entity would have the third largest total reach of any news provider – lower only than the BBC and ITN – and would, uniquely, span news coverage on television, radio, in newspapers and online.
“Ofcom’s report states that the proposed transaction would give the Murdoch Family Trust material influence over news providers with a significant presence across all key platforms.”
At the heart of the public’s concerns over the proposal has been the future of Sky News and fears it may become the British equivalent of the highly-polarising Fox News Channel in the United States.
As such, the Murdochs had pledged to keep Sky News branded as such for at least five years and appoint an independent editorial board to halt any Fox-like slide to the far right of the political spectrum.
Those pledges were not enough to assuage the concerns and get the deal passed at this point. So now we wait.
Fox’s current bid comes four years after similar plans were abandoned at the height of the phone hacking scandal involving Murdoch-owned newspapers in the UK.
If the deal is eventually rubber stamped, Rupert Murdoch will finally gain control of the 61% of the company he doesn’t yet own.
Do you think Sky will end up in Murdoch’s hands eventually? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.